Bible Reading Plan
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Weekends: Read any passages of your choice or catch up if you’ve fallen behind 🙂

 
 
 
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How To Soul Journal
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Journal Entries
Every weekday you will find a journal entry here from someone different in our church family. 
 
Click the scripture title and scroll down to see a comments section where you can ask questions, share insights and post your own SOUL Journal entry for the day!
 

Acts_11

Scripture

Acts 11:12

The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them.

Observation – What does it say?

Immediately following his mysterious vision from God, the three men sent by Cornelius came to the house where Peter was staying. He heard the Holy Spirit speak to him, commanding him to go with these men. So he did.

Understanding – What does it mean?

What stood out to me was the intimate relationship Peter had with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit spoke to him. Plainly. Clearly. Scripture doesn’t say, “Peter thought it might have been the Spirit speaking to him.” It was a matter of fact, because Peter had come to discern His voice.

And, the second side of the coin here is that Peter didn’t just hear, he obeyed. Jews didn’t associate with Gentiles, much less journey with them and step foot in their home. This would seem like an absurd thing for God to ask him to do. Yet, he didn’t question God and went.

Life Application 

Hear and obey.

I long to hear God’s voice more clearly. And, when God speaks I want to steward his voice well by obeying. How many times have I asked God to bless me to hear his voice, and yet how many times has he spoken clearly and, because of fear or what he was asking seemed too hard, I hesitated and ultimately disobeyed?

God, forgive me for the times you have spoken and I didn’t obey! May your voice become more clear to me and grant me the faith to trust you, even when what you say doesn’t seem to make sense or to be what I would prefer. Make me like David, a man who will do everything you have in mind for me to do. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

– Levi Thompson


Acts__10

Scripture
 
Acts 10:44-45
 
“Even as Peter was saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message. The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles, too.”
 
Observation-What does it say?
 
A devout, God-fearing man named Cornelius received a message from an angel of God. The angel instructs him to send some men to a town called Joppa, and summon a man named Simon Peter. So Cornelius sends his servants to bring Simon Peter back to his home.
While at home, Peter receives word from the Holy Spirit to follow these men that God has sent for him. Peter listens and obeys without any hesitation. Peter arrives at Cornelius’ house, and although the custom back then was that a Jewish man was not supposed to enter a Gentile’s home, Peter understands now that he should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean. Cornelius invites all his family and friends over to his house and explains to Peter the message he received from God. Peter now realizes that God doesn’t discriminate against anyone to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. So Peter begins to share with Cornelius and all his family and friends the message of Jesus Christ, and while Peter was speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening. The people began speaking in other tongues and praising God. This amazed Peter and the other Jewish believers who were with him that day.
 
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
Being obedient to the Holy Spirit is the first step to witnessing amazing things.
 
Looking back at this story I’m realizing the amazing thing that happened that day for Cornelius and all his family and friends. They were all baptized into the family of Jesus Christ! Christ Followers were multiplied that day! And none of this would have happened if Peter or Cornelius weren’t obedient to the Holy Spirit. In verse 7 Cornelius didn’t wait and ponder on what the angel had instructed him to do. It says as soon as the angel left him he followed through with the instructions. In verses 21-25 Peter invites these total strangers into his house to stay the night, and leaves with them the very next day. Who would do this?! Especially knowing these men were Gentiles and Peter being Jewish, and the history between the two groups. That takes faith and obedience! But because of Cornelius and Peter being so obedient to the Holy Spirit, they were able to witness multiple salvations that day and they were able to see the power of the Holy Spirit move within the whole household of Cornelius as they began to speak in tongues, giving God praise.
 
Life Application
 
Take time to pray and listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
 
Prayer is a way we communicate with God, but communication is a two way street. Who likes to be in a relationship when the other person does all the talking and they don’t even take the time to listen to you? That can be quite frustrating. I hate to admit, but sometimes I may treat God like that. Sometimes I can get caught up praying to Him and asking Him for all these things, but I forget to take the time to sit and listen to Him and hear what He needs from me.
 
Father God forgive me for my selfishness. Allow me to sit in silence and truly take the time to listen to your voice. Whether it’s through reading Your Word, or hearing the voice of Your Holy Spirit, help me to be keen to Your presence, and be obedient to what You ask of me. I know You are willing to do the amazing, but You just need obedience on my end. Bless me dear Lord with the strength and courage to do so. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.  
 
-Moses Gaddi


Acts_9

Scripture
 
Acts‬ ‭9:17-21‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?””
‭‭
Observation-What does it say?

Saul was someone who used to persecute and kill Christians. He did this because he thought he was honoring God. Jews, especially religious Jewish leaders believed that Jesus wasn’t God, so Christians were “blaspheming” God by preaching in Jesus’ name. They had to pay the consequences for their behavior. Saul was a key person in the stoning of Stephen, a Christian who was described as full of the Holy Spirit in Acts 7.
On the road to Damascus, Saul had an encounter with Jesus and Jesus spoke directly to Saul asking him why he was persecuting Him? The Lord made Saul blind for a few days and his life forever changed after that.

Understanding-What does it mean?

The work of the Holy Spirit changes us.

God spoke to Ananias in a dream to locate Saul and lay hands on him. The first work of the Spirit in this chapter was the fact that Ananias was able to obey God’s commands despite Saul’s former reputation of persecuting and killing Christians. The second work of the Spirit was the change in Saul’s life after Ananias laid hands on him so that he could see and be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Saul, who began as one of the chief religious Jewish leaders who persecuted believers, would soon be known as Paul, one of the greatest leaders in the Christian faith recorded in the Bible! That’s a true testament to the work of the Holy Spirit. Saul’s life turned completely around.

Life Application

What would happen if we were one of those vessels that the Holy Spirit could freely work through? What would happen if we were obedient to His leading?

In this chapter alone, there is evidence of so much of the Holy Spirit’s work. I already mentioned 2 in the understanding section. The Holy Spirit also changed the hearts of the believers towards Saul. The disciples weren’t fully convinced of Saul’s conversion, but the Holy Spirit worked through Barnabas and he convinced the apostles not to be afraid of Saul because he was a changed man. The Holy Spirit continued to do things in Scripture that was impossible in a human’s own strength. He continues to do things today that are impossible in our own strength!

As verse 31 said, “….They stopped living in the fear of man and started living in the fear of the Lord.” As a result, the church increased in numbers again!

Don’t underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit. There’s no stopping Him when He’s at work. As Pastor said on Sunday, “We need the Holy Spirit and when we receive Him we will be different in a way that is obvious to a watching world.”

-Michelle Gaddi


Acts_8

Scripture

Acts 8:4


Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.

 

Observation

Saul was shaking things up…and not in a good way.  He was terrorizing the church and all who believed.

 

Understanding

Quite beautifully and boldly, though, those who had experienced the Holy Spirit continued to preach “wherever they went.”  Like PG shared yesterday, when you experience the Holy Spirit, you are CHANGED.  There’s no going back, no hiding it, you catch a glimpse of what God’s heart is for His people, what He desires – wholeness, healing, love, joy, peace – and you can’t help but want to be part of it and share it with others.

 

Life Application

God, stir up a Holy hunger in me and in our church.  May we experience your manifest presence in a way that CHANGES us from the inside out, in a way that does not allow us to turn back to old ways or normal day to day…but in a way that creates an insatiable need to share your heart with others. 

 

Rain down. 

 

In Jesus name, Amen.

 

Rei

 

To check out the discussion or to join in click here.



Acts_7

Scripture

Acts 7:51-53

“You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.”

ObservationWhat does it say?

Stephen was seized and brought to trial under false accusations against him with false witnesses. He was responding to the high priest who asked Stephen if the charges were true. Stephen answered by laying out the history of Israel and how time and time again the Holy Spirit showed up yet the Israelites resisted God, grew cold, hard and jealous, and turned away from Him. Stephen was calling the Sanhedrin out, showing them how they were doing the same thing people had done for hundreds of years before them. 

Understanding-What does it mean?

Don’t resist the Holy Spirit.

All throughout scripture we see how God’s people resisted Him and suffered for it.

Jesus said: “This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:

“‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;     you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused;     they hardly hear with their ears,     and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes,     hear with their ears,     understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’[a] 

But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.” 

–Matthew 13:13-16

I want to be like Stephen, I wanted to be someone who sees and hears what the Holy Spirit is doing and saying. I want my heart to stay soft, and I wanted to be blessed because I see and hear. 

Life Application

Keep your heart soft before the Holy Spirit by spending time with God and God’s people.

I don’t want to be like the Sanhedrin or thousands of others who have gone before and have had their hearts hardened, and who have resisted Holy Spirit. I don’t want to miss out on the glory of God that people like Stephen got to experience because they were open to what Holy Spirit had for them and obeyed Him. I want to be open to all that God has for me, my family, community, and world. In order to do that, I need to keep myself in His presence, connecting with him regularly throughout my day and connecting with my family – God’s people – who can continue to encourage me and keep my heart in check should it start to grow cold. 

God, thank you for loving me so much that you sent Jesus to die for my sins, and thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Please forgive me for the times I resist the Holy Spirit, forgive me for the times that I have received your commands but haven’t obeyed them. Thank you for your grace and mercy, and the blood of Jesus that washes me clean. Help me to stay soft and open to you. Help me to stay soft and open to my family of believers. Help me to stay vulnerable before you. I love you! Amen. 

-Katie Thompson



Acts _6

SCRIPTURE

Acts 6:5-8 (NIV) 5  This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; … 8  Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people.

 
OBSERVATION

The word used to describe Stephen was fulness.

  • He was full of faith.
  • He was full of the Holy Spirit.
  • He was full of God’s grace
  • He was full of God’s power.
 
UNDERSTANDING

When we describe Stephen as full of, it means to be controlled by.  In essence, the description of Stephen was that he was a man controlled by the Holy Spirit.  He allowed the Holy Spirit to fill him with grace and power and love for the people he was serving.  He was also filled with wisdom as he allowed the Holy Spirit give him the words to speak to people.

 
The result of Stephen’s ministry was that the church continued to grow.
 
LIFE APPLICATION

The Holy Spirit is for everyone and the truth is that we can all be described in the same way that Stephen is described.  I want to be full of the Holy Spirit so that God’s grace and God’s power is demonstrated in and through me.  I want to be full of the Holy Spirit and directed by Him so that I too can see God do miraculous signs and wonders through me.  Imagine what could happen if we all allowed the Holy Spirit to fill us up.  Maybe the same would then be said of us… Acts 6:7 (NIV)  So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly…



Acts__5

Scripture:  Acts 5:1-2  Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property.  With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.

Observation-What does it say?  I read in a bible my friend had brought from Hawaii, called the Pidgin translation, the book of Acts was titled “The things the apostles done.”  I liked this title, because it brought the book down to a more human level.  Chapter five is after pentecost, when the group of believers, and the apostles specifically, were living together communally.  People were constantly giving up their possessions so that no one was left needing anything.  However, Ananias and his wife brought forth their gift not as a means of humbly providing for others, but as a way of gaining notoriety for their generosity.  Their consequence for trying to deceive God was death.

Understanding-What does it mean?  One of the hardest things I have ever been through was the police academy.  It required me to be fully committed to a lifestyle change, one that I was not ready for.  I had to learn new skills, like shining my shoes and cleaning a firearm.  I had to learn what seemed like a new language in the types of codes and legal jargon that is common with the profession.  And I had to get it all done perfect, or the academy staff would assign me “education memos” which were due the next day.  Once I got home, I would try to shine my shoes, iron my uniform, study my text book and finish 1000 word hand-written memos.  This would carry me so late into the night, that I had to continue standing while writing in fear of falling asleep and making a mistake.  

I was so overwhelmed with the work, and the level of commitment which was required of me, that I cried myself to sleep a lot of nights, and in the morning I would tell myself, “Today is the day I’m going to quit,” as I got into the car and drove to the academy.  And then, at some point several months into the process, it got easier without me noticing.  I began to enjoy the shoe shining and the ironing.  I made fewer mistakes on my memos and found myself with spare time that I was able to use to exercise more or study more.  I got better sleep.  And eventually, I graduated and the life changing event was all over.

Christianity, even more than the academy, is a fully encompassing thing.  It’s a life in which there are no short cuts.  It requires complete devotion.  In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus tells us that the gate to life is narrow and few will find it.  In Matthew 19, Jesus tells us it is easier to thread a needle with a camel than for the rich to find heaven.  In Luke 14, we learn that we need to disown our family in order to become His disciples.  There is verse after verse telling us of the perils of following after Jesus.  

In all honesty, I can relate to Ananias more often than I care to admit.  With my mouth I say I have given my life to Jesus, but in my heart I hold back.  I worry about my finances, I fear the future, and I am jealous of all the material things I don’t have.  Thankfully, Jesus’ grace is deeper and wider than any ocean.  Jesus also tells us that his yoke is easy and our burden light when we trust in him (Matthew 11:28-30).  God promises to protect us (Isaiah 43:1-2), He provides a way out when we are tempted (1 Corinthians 10:13), and He loved us enough to sacrifice His son for us.  So even though life can be overwhelming, and hard to truly commit to a life with Jesus, God provides for us through the Holy Spirit.

Life Application:  Jesus, I struggle with myself.  I know what I am supposed to do to be committed to you, but I have a hard time following through.  I sin in areas that I shouldn’t, and I try to tell you I love you, but I miss the mark.  Thank you for your love.  Thank you for your new mercy today.  Grant me the grace to trust you today, and I will let tomorrow handle itself.  

-Tyler Galloway



Acts_4

Scripture
Acts 4:31
After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
 
Observation – What does it say?
What an incredible time to be a part of the church! The believers were filled with the Holy Spirit and preached a message resulting in 3,000 people believing in Christ and getting baptized in one day!
 
Then shortly after, God healed a grown man through Peter and John, who had been unable to walk his entire life, causing another great crowd to gather in amazement. A crowd in the thousands! Peter and John, recognizing their opportunity, shared with the crowd that it was Jesus Christ who healed the man and 2,000 more people came to believe in Christ that day! In a very short period of time the church went from 120 people to over 5,000.
 
After getting arrested by the religious leaders and threatened to not speak about Jesus anymore, the believers gathered in prayer together. As they prayed, the place they were meeting was shaken and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit (again) and went and spoke the word of God boldly.
 
Understanding – What does it mean? Two things stood out to me in this passage:
  1. The Holy Spirit fills believers so that they can be his witnesses. 
Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses…”
 
It’s not about chills and thrills, it’s about bringing the good news to the world around us. And why would we need to be empowered to share? Because we are weak and cowardly if left on our own. We are all desperate for the Holy Spirit to fill us and empower us to share boldly with people about Jesus Christ!
 
  1. Being filled with the Holy Spirit isn’t a one-time thing.
The same believers who were filled and empowered in the upper room (Acts chapter 2), were filled again here!
 
Ephesians 5:18 “…be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 
 
The idea in the original language is “keep on being filled.” I don’t know about you, but I recognize that I leak. Over time, my passion and hunger for God has a tendency to fade. God designed us to be in a place of continual dependency on him, where we need to come to him not for monthly or yearly bread but for ‘daily bread.’ 
 
Life Application
I’m thirsty for a refill! For an encounter with God and a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit! 
 
And, I’m feeling challenged to be God’s witness. I want to be more like Jesus. Everywhere he went he was helping those who had needs and sharing the good news with them. What if that described my actions at the gym and the grocery store and the mall?
 
God, fill us all and empower us to be your witnesses everywhere we go! Amen.

 

– Levi Thompson


Acts_3

Scripture
 
Acts‬ ‭3:10
 
“When they realized he was the lame beggar they had seen so often at the Beautiful Gate, they were absolutely astounded!”
‬‬
Observation-What does it say?
 
Peter and John were on their way to the temple to pray. At the front gate of the temple lay a crippled man from birth, begging for money. Peter and John didn’t have any money to give the man, but what they did give him was something far greater. They commanded the man to get up and walk in the name of Jesus! The man was crippled no more. He was instantly healed! The man went inside the temple walking, leaping, and praising God! The other people inside the temple realized who this man was, and they were filled with wonder and amazement.
 
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
Never underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit.
 
The people within the temple were filled with wonder and amazement of what they were seeing. These were people who probably came in to the temple regularly for prayer and worship. They were people who either witnessed Jesus in person perform similar miracles, or heard the stories about them, or even heard the stories from past family generations of the miraculous things God would do for the people of Israel. So nothing should really shock them when dealing with the power of God right? I mean, it didn’t even phase Peter and John to see this man get up, walk and jump, because they believed! They believed in Jesus! They believed in the power of the Holy Spirit! They knew it was because of their faith in Jesus, that He would empower them to do greater things than He did… through the power of His Holy Spirit.
 
“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!”-John‬ ‭14:12-14‬
 
So why not be like Peter and John? Do things in the name of Jesus to bring glory to God. Call on the name of Jesus expecting amazing things to happen. Believe in the power of the Holy Spirit and abide in it.
God wants to do amazing things through us. The question is, are we willing to step out in faith and be obedient to see all that He can do?
 
Life Application
 
Take time to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you today.
 
Father God, thank You for leaving me Your Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit may You guide me in my thoughts and my actions today. Give me the strength and courage to be obedient to Your direction. Help me to be Your hands and feet out there today. Help me to give people a glimpse of Your power, mercy, and love through my actions. May Your name be glorified through it all. In Jesus’ holy name I pray, Amen.
 
-Moses Gaddi
 


Acts_2

Scripture

Acts 2:17-21, 38, 41 NIV 

In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.”

Observation-What does it say?

It was the day of Pentecost. Pentecost was the Greek name for a festival known as the Feast of Weeks in the Old Testament. The Greek Word means fifty and is the fifty days after the Passover. In the Book of Acts, it signified the beginning of the church age, after Jesus’ ascension, when the Holy Spirit came upon the Believers. (Source: gotquestions.org)

Understanding-What does it mean?

The Holy Spirit empowers our ministry and makes it more effective to the lost.

God will use whatever means necessary to get our attention and to make our ministry more effective to the lost. When the Holy Spirit came upon the Believers at Pentecost, they were able to speak in different languages. Although they were Galileans, the Word of God spread to those who spoke different languages because of the Holy Spirit’s work in each of their lives. A total of 3,000 people repented, were saved and baptized that day!

Life Application

Be open to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Whether it is speaking in tongues, prophecying or healing, God distributes the Holy Spirit’s gifts as He wills in order to edify the believer and the Church. We believe that those gifts are still being distributed today!
For the next couple of months, Pastor will be preaching on the book of Acts and the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church. Every Wednesday evening starting tomorrow, we will have worship nights from 7-8p. On one of those nights, January 23rd, Pastor Gary will be leading a very special night of prayer geared specifically towards being baptized in the Holy Spirit. Please join us!

Dear Lord, we pray that we wouldn’t hinder the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, whatever that looks like, and that we would be open to all the gifts of the Spirit that You desire us to have. Thank You that the power of Your Spirit is still alive and available to us today! I pray for an abundance of salvations and baptisms as a result of His work through us and that we would experience the same power of ministry and love that the early church did. Amen.

-Michelle Gaddi